Tenants Protest Ellis Act Evictions by Affordable Housing State Official
Matthew Jacobs is the Chair of the California Housing Finance Agency, a state agency with a mission to support the needs of renters and home-buyers by providing financing and programs that create safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income Californians.
Matthew Jacobs is also a developer who recently acquired four rent controlled apartment buildings in the Beverly Grove and Fairfax areas of Los Angeles. Jacobs is evicting 17 families living in these buildings under the dreaded state Ellis Act to build 19 4-story houses under the city’s Small Lot Sub-Division Ordinance that will each sell for well over $1 million.
“That gets me, too. I mean, the fact that we have very little affordable housing, and they’re not adding to it,” said Tenant Leader Steven Luftman.
Tenants facing eviction and their supporters protested in front of their landlord’s home, assisted by Coalition for Economic Survival, on May 27. Ironically, Jacobs lives blocks from the buildings on North Flores he’s demolishing.
In a phone response to a KPCC radio reporter’s question regarding the tenants’ protest in front of his home, Jacobs responded, “To build denser LA, some people need to be displaced.”
The Ellis Act is a California law enacted in 1985, which ostensibly allows landlords to “go out of business” and evict tenants in rent-controlled properties.
Alarmed by the rash of Ellis evictions like Jacobs’ projects and the
resulting destruction of historically significant housing stock, the Mid City West Community Council, a City-certified neighborhood council, voted unanimously to ask the City Council to forbid demolitions in Beverly Grove and other nearby areas until new regulations can be passed to protect the tenants and the buildings in which they live.
“I’m a widow and a senior citizen, being displaced from my home of twenty-two years;” said Cynthia Cohn. “Apartments in my neighborhood are fifty percent more expensive, and none accept dogs.”
The historic buildings facing demolition are 118 through 124 North Flores Street and 750 through 756 North Edinburgh Avenue.
Since 2001 the City of Los Angeles has lost nearly 19,000 rent controlled affordable housing units due to the Ellis Act, according to the LA Housing and Community Investment Department.
Luftman stated, “My message (to other tenants) is to get active now.”
Tenants and the Coalition for Economic Survival are urging people to contact Governor Jerry Brown to demand that he remove Matthew Jacobs from the California Housing Finance Agency. Given that Jacobs is destroying affordable housing and displacing low income and working tenants to build housing for the rich, they believe that this man has no moral right to sit on the board of an agency dedicated to providing affordable housing for the people of California.
Contact Governor Brown at 916-445-2841 or by email to tell him to remove Jacobs now.